Home » Uncategorized » Johnny Depp, Justin Bieber, porn stars: Beverly Hills in a world of its own

Johnny Depp, Justin Bieber, porn stars: Beverly Hills in a world of its own

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If you’ve watched the television show “Entourage,” you’re familiar with the notion of Los Angeles as a city where celebrities are like deer in your backyard. Run-ins with the rich and famous aren’t an everyday thing, but happen frequently enough that it doesn’t faze L.A. residents. For a midwestern journalism student, the reality of this was a mind-blowing experience.

 

I was traveling to California for a press junket (an event where serious college journalists mingle with the less-professional professional journalists. Paramount pays for the whole thing so basically my journalism career is downhill from here) while reporting on an upcoming release for the movie “Rango,” starring Johnny Depp. He was the keynote guest at the event so I was prepped for serious celeb-exposure.

 

The press conference, which featured director Gore Verbinski and actresses Isla Fisher and Abigail Breslin as well, was going as planned. Depp answered numerous gossip-based questions while the other talent sat waiting for someone to realize they were there. That’s when things got fishy.

 

Toward the end of the conference, there was a minor commotion in the back and there suddenly appeared a teenager proclaiming his love of Depp’s work. The actor probably deals with this sort of thing all the time, except this teenager was Justin Bieber.

 

We weren’t allowed to have cameras during the conference, but even if we had, I’m not sure I would’ve thought to take a picture of the duo. A blood vessel in my eye had metaphorically popped and my mouth hung halfway open.

 

Diabetic low blood sugar, psychosis, someone had drugged my drink. I was clearly seeing things.

 

Bieber and Depp continued to chat while Verbinski sat back, bemused. My journalist’s brain started to try to figure out how this was going to fit into a news story. It would read like an April Fools’ joke. The man who topped Entertainment Weekly’s “50 Most Powerful Entertainers” list in 2010 and the boy who has more Facebook fans than President Barack Obama, chatting genially in the middle of a movie press conference.

 

Eventually Depp gestured at the awestruck audience and explained that he was in the middle of something. Bieber hopped 180 degrees comically, gave a quick wave and said, “Hey guys!” Several reporters responded with a monotone “Hey Justin.” Bieber left, and business continued as scheduled. What MTV would later call “celebrity encounter of the year” was no big deal for Bieber, Depp or the Paramount staff.

 

The staff at the Four Seasons was equally impervious to the presence of fame in its midst. In a period of maybe 10 minutes, Depp, Fisher and Cee Lo Green (it was Grammy weekend) walked past me in the lobby. None merited a second glance from the personnel.

 

These weren’t all of The Lantern’s celebrity encounters. The night before, I ate at the hotel’s restaurant with several of my cohorts from other papers. Sitting at the table across from us was famous/infamous porn star Ron Jeremy. Again, no one, staff or patrons, seemed to care, aside from our little group. Jeremy did clean up nicely, but he was still quite recognizable. I ticked off in my head how quickly the waitress brought his table’s drinks as I waited patiently for my own.

 

A quick trip down the block to the local grocery store found me in line across from Donald Faison, better known as Turk from “Scrubs.” A life-changing moment for the many “Scrubs” fanatics I know was just another day at the supermarket for the Beverly Hills clientele.

 

When I thought about making an op-ed on these experiences, my initial reaction was to write a clichéd piece explaining how celebrities are real people too. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the opposite was true. Celebrities aren’t real people at all.

 

Maybe Depp and Green can walk into a Four Seasons without being fawned over by the other guests. The key part of that sentence is the “Four Seasons.” It’s a heck of a nice hotel. Its celebrity guests are paying exorbitant sums to be treated like everyone else. Beverly Hills residents like Faison can go to the store without harassment because the average price of a home in the area is $1,240,634 (according to hiltonhyland.com, a Beverly Hills real estate firm). The other citizens of the 90210 area are kind of big deals themselves. If Jeremy showed up at The Blackwell for dinner, you’d hear about it.

 

The immediate response to Bieber’s intrusion upon our press conference was that his actions were adorable. What if Ryan Book wanted to bust into a Paramount press conference and tell Johnny Depp how great he was? I would be subdued, possibly arrested, and maybe even tazed. Legality aside, Bieber was just rude. But for someone of his stature, it’s no harm, no foul.

 

Celebrities often complain about the downsides of fame, but I’ve seen the other side of the coin and it doesn’t look too bad.

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